Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

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Latest post 12-29-2011 9:27 PM by Drew. 24 replies.
  • 12-28-2011 5:01 PM

    • buckeye54
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    Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    I have been employed by the Dept of Navy for almost 36 years.  I was married to my ex-wife for about 14 of those years.  I'm planning to retire within the next one to three years and I have questions regarding her entitlement to my retirement benefits.

    First, I'm under the old Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which is not tied in with Social Security like the newer retirement system.  Also, my active duty Navy time will count toward my civilian retirement.  My question is whether my ex is entitled to part of my Federal retirement  and if so how much?

    An interesting sidelight to this issue is that over the years she has almost never been employed and for the past 20 years (we were divorced in 1991) she has received SSI and disability from the state (we live in California).  I'm under the impression that if she receives income from my retirement it will decrease the amount of money and benefits she receives from state or other Federal programs.  For example she is living in Section 8 housing and if her income increases above a certain level I believe she loses that benefit.  So getting part of my retirement may not help her much, but may hurt me.

    I'm thinking perhaps I can get her to agree to some type of one-time or monthly payment directly from me in exchange for waiving her rights to my retirement.  Does this make sense?  What's the best way to approach this?  How this plays out will affect when I retire and whether or not I can remain in California.

    I greatly appreciate any and all input, advice, and personal experience.

  • 12-28-2011 5:29 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Before speculating, what does your current decree say about the division of your retirement benefits?

    If the issue has already been addressed, then it may be difficult to change after the fact. If the issue was deferred, then I would say that there is lots of room for negotiation.

  • 12-28-2011 5:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    I agree.

    Your divorce decree will say what she's entitled to.

    If it doesn't say that she is entitled to any of it, then she isn't, unless some statute says she is. And that's something you should be asking a divorce lawyer.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-28-2011 6:46 PM In reply to

    • buckeye54
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    There was a "Stipulated Amendment to Judgement" which addressed child support, spousal support, child custody & visitation, health and life insurance, etc.  The final items states, "Petitioner shall calculate the Brown formula for partitioning Respondent's Civil Service Retirement Benefits, and Petitioner shall prepare a Qualified Domestic Relations Order therefrom."  My ex was the petitioner, and several years after our divorce was final I went to the courthouse to check the official records.  The Stipulated Amendment to Judgement had never been signed by either party or either attorney and was nowhere to be found in the official record.  So I'm pretty certain no QDRO was ever filed either.  Not to be negative toward the attorneys involved, but hers didn't seem to be all that sharp and was usually late filing paperwork.  My attorney ended up being convicted of defrauding some of his clients and was disbarred and sentenced to prison.

    So it appears nothing was ever filed (I'll stop by family court in the next few weeks and check again) and it's 20+ years since the divorce was final.  Where does this leave me?  Are these kinda weird circumstances or are they more common than one might think?

  • 12-28-2011 9:27 PM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    buckeye54:
    So it appears nothing was ever filed (I'll stop by family court in the next few weeks and check again) and it's 20+ years since the divorce was final.  Where does this leave me?

    Home free, I would think.

    If the document doesn't exist, then nobody can enforce it.

    If you can verify that it doesn't exist in the case file and isn't mentioned in the docket or referred to at all (make sure you read the docket and the minute entries in addition to just looking for the document), then I suggest you never mention it and, if you are quoting an unsigned copy in your possession, destroy it.

    Dirty pool, I know, but you probably got shafted in California anyway, so be thankful you dodged a bullet and forget it.

    Ouch, I feel the wrath of the ladies already. :-) 

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-28-2011 10:33 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    If the petitioner failed to get a step in place the last thing in the world I'd do is to ask any questions or raise any feathers  --not with a 20' pole!



  • 12-29-2011 12:51 AM In reply to

    • buckeye54
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Thanks for the advice.  I'll check the case file thoroughly before jumping to any conclusions.

    In this case my ex is getting money from the state to begin with.  It's not like she'd benefit from my retirement. The state would just cut her other payments and if she lost her Section 8 housing she'd really be in a bad way.  If it would help her in some way I might feel differently, but the only winner will be the state of California.

  • 12-29-2011 12:53 AM In reply to

    • buckeye54
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Great advice.  I'm wondering if there's any statute of limitation on stuff that wasn't filed in a timely manner or if she can go back after 20 years and still try to get more out of me?

  • 12-29-2011 6:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Don't spend that money yet- since there is an order stating that wife is entitled to her portion of your retirement, the only issue being how much- you may have trouble accessing your retirement.

  • 12-29-2011 9:11 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Unless the petitioner got a "court order accecptable for processing" entered and served upon federal pension administrator she may be out of luck --for now-until she wakes up ?   Federal system requires slightly different steps------ 



  • 12-29-2011 10:13 AM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    buckeye54:
    I'm wondering if there's any statute of limitation on stuff that wasn't filed in a timely manner or if she can go back after 20 years and still try to get more out of me?

    She can try. But probably won't succeed.

    Even though CA is a community property state (I get half of your thing, you get half of my thing) the terms and conditions of a divorce decree can be reached by negotiating a settlement (I keep my thing, you keep your thing) and that settlement is enforceable.

    If the proposed amendment to the decree doesn't exist, I don't think anybody can rewrite the decree 20 years later.

    It would be another story if one side could show that the other side committed fraud upon the court, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-29-2011 11:39 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,504

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    I'd make absolutely no waves or comments----just get my money.......



  • 12-29-2011 12:50 PM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    Your problem here is that the "Brown" rule can't be applied until you retire because part of the formula is to figure out what fraction of the pension is marital to be divvied up by 50%.  It's not as though it could have been done at the time.  And it's fairly clear that unless a settlement agreement or decree said she wasn't entitled to it that it's an open matter.  A stipulation dictating what formula should be applied in future to address her marital interest doesn't mean she hasn't acquired an interest.

    If it turns out only 35% of the pension is marital, then she'd wind up being able to go after 17.5%.  Whether that would be worthwhile to her, who knows.

    Get off the internet and seek local counsel if you want to know what's possible and what isn't.

  • 12-29-2011 1:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    She has a definite interest in your pension; when you try to access that pension, you will be asked for a copy of your divorce decree which will state that she has an interest in that pension.  Keeping quiet and all the other nonsense suggested here-including committing fraud,  will only delay your own access to your pension as none of it will be able to be distributed.

  • 12-29-2011 1:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Ex-Spouse's entitlement to my retirement benefits

    JoBraver:

    She has a definite interest in your pension; when you try to access that pension, you will be asked for a copy of your divorce decree which will state that she has an interest in that pension.  Keeping quiet and all the other nonsense suggested here-including committing fraud,  will only delay your own access to your pension as none of it will be able to be distributed.

    Nobody's suggesting fraud or nonsense.

    You're missing the point.

    IF the decree DOES NOT give her a share of the pension, and IF the amendment DOES NOT exist, what then is the poster's LEGAL obligation to share his pension?

    Please cite CA statute numbers or CA case decisions to back up your opinion.

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
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